iKids Summer 2014

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ikids_Summer 2014 5 /web ot all that long ago, networks fed their brands to digital via one-way streets. But now, new and exciting IP is origi- nating first on digital platforms such as YouTube and then getting translated to linear. Content has started to flow both ways, with incumbents looking to adapt, and digital upstarts hoping to capitalize on existing distribution and monetiza- tion opportunities to build their businesses. While some fear the fallout of continued fragmentation, platforms like Netflix have demonstrated that new digital offerings can be additive—something it showed by signing 30 million subscribers in the US with little detri- mental effect on pay-TV subscriptions. That's good news for networks targeting millennials and younger digital natives, whose expecta- tions are driven more by devices and content availability, than by network schedules. Disney's US$500-million acquisition of YouTube network Maker Studios this past April, for example, clearly demonstrates that potential. Maker gives Disney even greater access to young viewers, as well as a rich development environ- ment in which to play. Meanwhile, Disney gives Maker a substantial megaphone, not to mention access to the Mouse's content vaults. But more importantly, notes consultant Will Richmond, editor and publisher of online video industry publication VideoNuze, the digital play- ers are helping incumbents redefine themselves. "They are not encumbered by traditional relationships, traditional distribution arrange- ments and so forth," he observes of compa- nies like Maker Studios. "They come at this with a clean slate. When…you have defined businesses that produce very healthy revenue streams, it's hard to do things that are disrup- tive, because you are disrupting yourself. There is always going to be somebody whose bonus is on the line. There are always going to be employees who are adversely impacted." Richmond says serious attention should also be paid to recent deals strick by four US cable operators to carry Netflix. Cable and It's no secret that YouTube and other online platforms are a great source of new IP. But they're also the means by which traditional networks will redefine themselves. B y B re n d a n C h r i s t i e Nouveau networks Daniella Monet is the host of Nickelodeon's year- old sketch comedy, AwesomenessTV N

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